Why do advertising agencies and design firms continue to provide prospective clients with “spec work” for free? It’s a long standing practice to which people in other industries would never agree. It’s ridiculous, goes back decades, and will never stop unless every firm — large, small, independent, even freelancers — goes cold turkey on this ridiculous but generally accepted process. The time and dollars spent pursuing new business in this manner has a greater cost than one might think, because it chews up resources (staff and profits) that might otherwise be dedicated to supporting existing clients.

The only one who wins in this scenario is the prospective client (and the search consultant, if there is one involved).

The problem is that there is always a shop out there ready to “George Steinbrenner” the pitch process. The choice, then, is to participate in this asinine game or develop a new way of winning business. I would argue that investing in your current brands is a better way to remain fiscally healthy than always chasing the new, new thing. It sounds good, but winning a bright, shinny new $5M, $10M or $50M account sounds pretty good, too.

Giving away work and man hours in the pursuit of new business is something that’s not likely to die as the result of an industry-wide moratorium, but Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, who no longer engages in “spec work” pitches, created this hilarious video illustrating just how insane it seems to every other business on the planet.